Public Opinion, Politics and Society in Contemporary Ireland


Pat Lyons

A fascinating study of opinion polling in the Republic of Ireland from its foundation in the early 1970s, revealing the distinct and distinctly differing attitudes within the Irish populace concerning a plethora of major issues.

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This book is the first systematic study of opinion polling in the Republic of Ireland from its foundation in the early 1970s. Using a unique collection of opinion poll results this work explores how Irish society has changed since polling began and demonstrates what mass surveys can tell us about the great social, political and economic upheavals that have shaped contemporary Ireland.

Using the largest set of opinion polls ever assembled this book demonstrates what commercial polls can validly and reliably tell us about Irish public opinion. The evidence presented shows that poll results do not speak for themselves. Using numerous examples this book debunks the myth that the Irish public have single views on key issues such as popular support for increased European integration, the future of Northern Ireland, or legalising abortion. The presence of different opinions on the same issue has major implications for our understanding of whether Irish society has become more liberal, less nationalist, or is experiencing a change of heart with regard to the EU. In contrast to previous work this book gives the voice of citizens centre stage in charting the emergence of contemporary Irish society.

Table of Contents


1. Public Opinion Data and Opinion Poll Design
2. Public Opinion Measurement and Questionnaire Design
3. The Electoral Record of Irish Opinion Polls
4. Satisfaction with the Government, the Taoiseach and Party Leaders
5. Public Opinion towards the Liberal Agenda
6. Public Opinion in the Republic of Ireland towards the Northern Ireland Question
7. Economic Opinion in Ireland and Left-Right Orientation
8. Irish Public Opinion towards the European Union


About the Author

Pat Lyons holds degrees in history, sociology and European integration and has a Ph.D. in Political Science from Trinity College. He is currently a Senior Research Fellow at the Department of Political Sociology, Institute of Sociology, Czech Academy of Sciences.